May 2005: Gorillaz Predict Dystopian Times with DEMON DAYS

Monday, May 23, 2022

Four years after the group's splashy debut, the band borne from boredom and hours spent watching MTV took a decidedly cloudy turn: "Gorillaz make dark pop; that's what they always set out to achieve," Damon Albarn told MTV News, cheekily speaking for the animated band comprised of Russel Hobbs, Noodle, Murdoc Niccals and 2-D about their second studio effort, Demon Days. "The whole album kind of tells the story of the night — staying up during the night — but it's also an allegory. It's what we're living in basically, the world in a state of night."

The mood for the Demon Days campaign was set with the release of lead single, deceptively upbeat "Feel Good Inc." Featuring De La Soul, "Clint Eastwood," the track was a global hit, hitting #1 in on the mainstream charts in Greece and Spain. In America, "Feel Good Inc." peaked at #14 on the Hot 100 in August 2005.

The second Demon Days single was another international smash: "Dare," featuring Happy Mondays singer, Shaun Ryder. Peaking at #1 in the UK, it still stands as Gorillaz only chart-topper on the British charts. In America, the song had its biggest impact on the dance floor, reaching #4 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart.

Gorillaz released Demon Days on May 23, 2005 (it first appeared on May 11 in Japan). The LP quickly surpassed its predecessor in regards to sales, soaring to the #1 position on album charts in France, Greece, Scotland, Switzerland, and the UK. In America, the record crashed the top 10 to peak at #6 for the week of June 11, 2005. The #1 album in the country that week: Audioslave, Out of Exile.

"Well, the thing about Gorillaz is that so many people involved in it just feel a need to overplay their part," Murdoc Niccals scoffed during an interview at South By Southwest in 2005. "If Damon Albarn and Dangermouse want to swan around Texas around telling people that they made the album, fine. It just highlights their desperate lust for glory really. There’s only four people who are responsible for making that record. Me, Noodle, Russel and er…2D. And to be honest, mate, I’ve even got my suspicions about some of them."

While follow-up singles including "Dirty Harry" (#6 UK) and to a lesser degree, "Kids with Guns" kept the Gorillaz relevant on the charts, album tracks including "Last Living Souls" and the MF DOOM-featuring "November Has Come" set the record's dark and prevailing mood (and further cemented its instant classic status).

"Both Damon and Dangermouse gave us a lot of support in making this album. There’s no way, despite the devastating skills that Gorillaz have as a band, that this album would have coming out sounding as it does without the work that they did," added drummer Russel Hobbs. "I feel it’s right for them to talk about their input in its creation. Also Gorillaz have always tried to do as little live TV promotion as possible, in order to keep the mystique, so in a way they’re kinda helping us out."